Operation Shine Camp provides support to special-needs children

The eight annual Operation Shine Camp made its debut at Camp Maranatha Friday.
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 5:58 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - A camp for special-needs children made its debut at Camp Maranatha.

The three-day camp kicked off Friday afternoon. Organizers welcomed campers and their families with a drive-thru parade.

Operation Shine Camp is in its eighth year. The camp offers a safe and supportive environment for children ages seven to 12 who are on the autism spectrum.

“Probably 95% or more campers have never stayed overnight away from a family member, so this is a huge deal,” said Aaron Bly, Kids and Dreams Foundation Executive Director. “This is way out of their comfort zone and it’s something we have seen that has made a huge impact on kids over the last several years that we’ve done this.”

Twenty-nine campers from across the state, including Wyoming are participating in the camp. Around 100 volunteers from Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa, Colorado and Nebraska are giving their time to make this year’s camp a success.

“We also know its a huge task to ask families to let their son or daughter come especially at that young of an age and to trust them with somebody who they’ve never met before,” said Bly. “We have staff that watches the cabins because they don’t sleep very well. We have a crisis team in case there is a melt down and have those volunteers come and work with the kid and just a variety of sensory rooms if they get over stimulated. We just have a variety of different ways to help those kids be successful and have fun and be safe.”

Presenters from Great Plains Health, Maxwell Fire and Rescue, LifeNet and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office will also be participating. The Pop Corner also contributing to this year’s event.

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